Strong suggestion for Democrats

I have a strong suggestion for Democrats who are not happy with the Roe v Wade verdict, watered down gun governance and restrictions on civil rights and are fearful of climate change inaction, environmental degradation and health care attacks, they need to vote. Know the rules that have been altered to keep you from voting and get out and vote. You could throw a few million people marches to get their attention as well.

There is a canary in the coal mine that is saying more voters are switching to the GOP (I read 1+ million), including the suburban educated women voters. To me, this tells me that people are listening to messaging coming out of more conservative channels that rakes Dems over the coals. I am not saying that messaging is correct, but people are listening to it.

Dems better crystalize key talking points that will appeal to all Americans and hammer them home. If they appeal to only progressive Dems, they will need to look up what happened to George McGovern in 1972. Watergate was in part related to Nixon wanting to run against McGovern and not Edmund Muskie. He knew he could beat McGovern but knew Muskie would be a tougher challenge. He ran against McGovern and won 49 states to 1.

Note, I am not saying progressive ideas are not good, but they need to be ideas that are saleable to all Americans and not offensive because of poor word choice. For example, “Defund the police” may have not meant exactly what it said, but the term was a gift to Republicans. My old party is bereft of good ideas in my view which is one reason conservative pundit Michael Gerson says the GOP is in “decay.” But, the GOP spin doctors do a better job, aided and abetted by Fox News, QAnon, and Infowars, et al, to focus on over-exaggerated issues where a label can be slapped on it and a bumper sticker created.

And, Dems please note, they are winning at this and expect to take the House and Senate majority. I have said before we need a viable Republican party, but this is not it. The best way to rid the country of this extreme party is not to vote for them.

Monday, Monday – a few this and that(s)

Since our friend Jill recently posted “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and Papas, let me use the title of another one of their songs to begin the week. Here are few items to chew on for the week:

  • Since January 6, 2021, I have felt the political career of the former president is over. But, I felt it would take some time for the Republican party to figure that out. To be honest, it has taken a little longer, but that is due to active sycophants who are scared to tell the MAGA crowd the truth.
  • The great unraveling is occurring with donors getting tired of the “sh** show” as one referred to Trump’s antics and an increasing number of conservative icons speaking out. The latest is Brian Kilmeade, who is one of hosts on Fox and Friends. His criticism speaks volumes as he has fawned over Trump for years.
  • I also heard that Trump is riveted to the hearings and is in furor with no one there to defend the indefensible – that Trump betrayed his country. He is blaming everyone else but the guy watching the TV from his home. The fact he is not accountable for his own actions has long been a weakness of the former president, but we have to remember his mentor, attorney Roy Cohn told him to “never apologize and to sue everyone” per his biographers.
  • I do think the odds-on favorite to the GOP nomination in 2024 is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. As an independent, this troubles me as I see a more effective mini-Trump in DeSantis who bullies people into acquiescence. The GOP could do much better with ex-govenors Mitch Daniels or John Kasich, but they do not stand a chance in hell, given they are more moderate and collaborative. Like Trump, the truth is a foreign currency to DeSantis, even before becoming governor.
  • SCOTUS has made two horrible rulings the past ten days to appease two different crowds of people. Roe v. Wade being changed gets the most notoriety. They took a fifty-year-old law that had been reduced to a workable framework and decided to gut it. So, now we will have a confederation of state laws. What is interesting to me, there were enough votes in Congress to pass some continuation of Roe v. Wade and may still be there, but it will require very narrow focus and not an expanded one. I think once Republicans realize this ruling is not a winner, some may want to come to the table, but that window for change may have closed.
  • The second ruling allowed people to more openly carry a gun overturning a New York law. This occurred a few days before Congress passed some watered governance changes, but at least they did do something. The SCOTUS ruling concerns me as mixing testosterone, alcohol and a firearms means more gun deaths. Mixing depression and gun access means more suicides. To be frank, people carrying guns does not make me feel safer given the temperature of too many in our country. People wound too tight might shoot first and talk second.
  • As for shootings, the beat goes on. More occurred yesterday. Plus, the US has exported mass shootings to other civilized countries, Norway being the most recent example. Given our fascination with guns and freedoms to use them, I truly don’t think we will ever solve this problem unless we make more demonstrative changes. I am glad something was done, but it was not near enough. But, it is a start. Sadly, the SCOTUS ruling may erase the chalk on the board where the new law is written.

That is all for now. Let me know your thoughts.

Note to Senators and Congressman – please act on our gun death problem

After watching the President Biden’s very good speech last night asking for our support in addressing our gun death problem, I posted the following short statement on the websites for my two Republican Senators (Burr and Tillis) and Senate Minority leader McConnell. I also posted it on my Republican Congressman’s website.

I watched the President’s impassioned speech on doing something at long last to deal with our gun death problem in the US. We have more gun deaths than the next twenty-two wealthiest nations COMBINED. That is not an enviable standing. I am pleading with you to think like a parent and grandparent and do something. There are measures which are supported by the majority of gun owners that we can build from. If you and Congress fail to finally do something, it will be a disservice to Americans. Please act.

I have posted similar messages over the years, but to no avail. Maybe, just maybe, Americans have had enough with their elected officials, and can squeeze out some leadership from these folks beholden to the NRA. Sadly, these folks have not seemed to care that the majority of gun owners are OK with several changes. We need to make them care.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister is a leader on gun control

In a PBS Newshour story produced by Aamer Madhani called “Biden discusses gun control with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern,” it was good to see the success of the New Zealand leader on gun control get more press. Here are a few of the initial paragraphs which give you the gist of the discussion:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday for her success in curbing domestic extremism and guns as he tries to persuade a reluctant Congress to tighten gun laws in the aftermath of horrific mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York.

The long-planned talks between Biden and Ardern were to center on trade, climate and security in the Indo-Pacific, but the two leaders’ starkly different experiences in pushing for gun control loomed large in the conversation.

Ardern successfully won passage of gun control measures in her country after a white supremacist gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in 2019. Less than a month later all but one of the country’s 120 lawmakers voted in favor of banning military-style semiautomatic weapons.

Biden told reporters at the start of his meeting with Ardern that he ‘will meet with the Congress on guns, I promise you,’ but the White House has acknowledged that winning new gun legislation will be uphill climb in an evenly divided Congress.

The U.S. president praised Ardern for her ‘galvanizing leadership’ on New Zealand’s efforts to curb the spread of extremism online, and said he wanted to hear more about the conversations in her country about the issue.”

Quite simply, leaders need to lead. Ardern took the bull by the horns and said enough is enough and introduced measures to add gun governance. Her courage should be commended as it is so unusual with our politicians to see such as they are too beholden to their funders and some staked out position which is counter to positive actions.

On gun governance, climate change, civil rights abuses, debt, etc. we need our leaders to act like parents and grandparents. Or, they could do their best to emulate folks like Ardern or Zelenskyy and ignore spineless politicians here in the US who are scared of their own shadow.

Two questions on gun deaths – a letter to the editor

The following is a letter I wrote to the editor of my local newspaper. It is necessarily brief but poses two questions that I want to ask certain politicians. Please feel free to adapt and use, if you like it.

Members of a political party are saying our gun death issues are not a gun problem, but a mental health one. Two questions. 1) If that is the only reason, then why does the US have more gun deaths than the next twenty-two first world nations combined? I presume these 22 countries have people with mental health issues as well.

2) If this is only a mental health issue, then why are members of this party against expanding Medicaid which provides mental health benefits? The number one cause of gun deaths in the US is suicides. Access to a weapon plays a role and saying it does not is naive and political. All it takes is one impulsive act and it is over.

As a result, any solution has to be multi-faceted to work including better gun governance and access to mental health services as only two of the components.

The deer must lead the way

I was watching one of those animal documentaries and it set a common belief on its head. Like me, many may have the belief the deer will follow where the stag leads. But, through observations, scientists have noted that is not always the case. The deer will feel threatened and move before the stag knows what happened. The stag will, in essence, follow the does and younger deer out of harm’s way.

That is the way it has to be now that elected officials are too scared to do anything. Of course, a change here and there occurs, but for the most part legislators are less inclined to make substantive changes that go against their funders’ wishes. As a result, collaboration is harder and even positive changes do not get passed, as one tribe cannot let the other take credit for political gain. Helping people is secondary to winning elections. It is that simple.

In the 2018 midterm US elections, the does rallied together in the Women’s March and ousted many stags from politics. It was an election that saw a large number of women get elected. Last week, in Australia, a change averse and industry helping government was swept out of office after nine years and three prime ministers. The does said we need to deal with climate change, child care and Medicare issues. And, by the way, integrity matters they said. It should be noted, not all the folks who got booted out were stags, as even does can be less than helpful as an elected official as we have seen here in the US.

It should be noted in 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, helped push through more restrictive gun laws after the nation was mourning the mass shooting deaths that just occurred. A female leader said acting to address this issue was of major importance. How refreshing. Ardern will be speaking at Harvard on the subject of gun control and will likely visit with the US president. Think of the contrast between her and certain elected officials here that are attending a conference held by the NRA, ironically in Texas, or parroting the usual and stale tripe that goes for debate in our country to prevent what most Americans want from happening.

Leaders look like Ardern. They look like Zelenskyy. They looked like Merkel and Mandela. They are imperfect, but they represent the people, all people of their countries. I mention Mandela as he was being pressured to swing the pendulum even more the way of the native South Africans after Apartheid. He did make sure their rights were promoted, but he also recognized the country as a whole needed to come together.

We need to listen to leaders like this. They are refreshing in contrast to our elected officials here who will actually go against the majority of people’s wishes to garner votes from a vocal minority. It is truly sad to see that occur. And, it should be noted how I sparingly use the word leader here in the US.

Letter to the editor – Australian election should be a wake up call for the US conservatives

I sent the following letter to the editor of my newspaper. It may not get printed, but I wanted others to see it and adapt and use it if they like it.

Seeing Australian voters sweep out conservatives after nine years and three prime ministers is telling. A large bloc of women voters grew tired of relative inaction on climate change, lack of assuring soundness of their Medicare and child care, and overall lack of integrity in its elected leaders.

Here in the states, my former Republican party is turning a blind eye to more action on climate change, better gun governance, growing fascism and shoring up the ACA and are attacking voting rights and civil rights. At the same time, overstated and even contrived issues are getting the air time to garner votes from their base.

As conservative pundit Michael Gerson says the “Republican Party is in decay.” I agree. We need a viable Conservative party, but what we have is not on the right path. The truth matters. And, a party that vilifies its truth tellers while glorifying its liars does not have the needed veritas to be considered seriously. I can disagree with the Democrats on policy, but with Republicans I find myself having to argue what is true. That is telling to this independent and former Republican and Democrat voter.

We are number one

We are number one. The United States has more gun deaths than all the other top 23 civilized nations in the world COMBINED. Our rate of gun deaths is three times that of Canada, where they also like their guns. Three times the rate.

Let me say this loudly, once again – we will NEVER solve this problem until our legislators act like parents and grandparents and stop acting like people scared of the NRA focused base. What is further troubling is most gun owners do not belong to the NRA and want change. Too bad. “It is a slippery slope” we hear from the NRA funded politicians. Well, burying your child is also a slippery slope into a rectangular hole.

Quite sadly, this is no longer news in America. It has become routine. Oh-hum, more people are shot in America. What shooting will come next week? How many more teens, young adults and college students will commit suicide due to access to guns (the number one gun death in the US)? How many more adults or kids will be shot, because a four or six year old found a loaded weapon? How many more people will be shot in an argument because someone had access to a gun? How many more people will be shot in a mass shooting because someone with a cause, a beef, or a fantasy got access to a gun?

Thoughts and prayers will not solve this problem. They have become a trite way for a legislator to say I am sorry your loved one is dead but watch me dribble the basketball to stall out the game clock until this week’s episode of gun death has subsided. In other words, the politician is saying “I won’t do anything, but you have my thoughts and prayers.” God must be tired of this lack of courage. He is probably thinking “I gave you a brain and a backbone – please act.” Or, another one of God’s children, some guy named Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”

Wednesday wanderings in mid-May

We should have another warm day here, so walking may make us “glisten,” a word my wife uses for perspiration. So, as we glisten on our walk about, let me share a few of my wandering thoughts.

The votes from yesterday’s mid-term primaries are being tallied, so I will save commentary for another day, with two exceptions. With almost 100% of the votes counted, it looks like Rep. Madison Cawthorn will be unseated in his first election as an incumbent. His failure to: realize on three occasions a driver needs a driver license, understand he cannot carry a weapon onto a plane on two occasions, appreciate claiming your Republican colleagues are having orgies and coke parties is not the way to make friends, and recognize that not doing much of anything other than abet the former president’s Big Lie and insurrection of Congress is not conducive to good governance. It should be noted Cawthorn lost in the middle of a heavy Republican district, which speaks volumes.

The other exception is Rep. Ted Budd, a non-apologetic Trump sycophant, won the Republican primary to fill the US Senate seat of retiring Richard Burr. That is unfortunate, as we may end up with another strident Senate member who is replacing a more moderate Republican in Burr. He will be running against a very good Democrat candidate in Judge Cheri Beasley’s whose commercials and record are exemplar. I am sure she will be attacked, but she is a far more credible candidate than Budd. I just hope the voters in North Carolina listen to her and what she is saying. And, that there are no termites in the woodwork like with the candidate who was about to beat the junior Senator in 2020 before he did something stupid.

I am certain there will be a mixed bag of results in the Republican primaries due to the support of the former president. When I see or hear the endorser on a TV ad, it truly makes me ill. A person who has divided our country further with his Big Lie because he is not man enough to accept defeat and who instigated an insurrection on a branch of government to stay in power is not someone whose opinion lends itself to credibility. But, with too few Republicans actually pushing back on the bullying and untruthful acting former president, coupled with troubling policies on climate change, gun governance, civil rights, health care access and making rich people richer, it makes it easier to not vote for any Republicans in the general election. The climate change and environmental issues alone are a reason to avoid putting more Republicans in place.

I know I will offend Republicans and conservatives, who will offer “what about” comments. As an Independent and former Republican of twenty plus years and Democrat of five plus years, I disagree on policies with both parties. Yet, I find myself arguing policy issues with Democrats and the truth with Republicans. With too many Republicans listening to sources who parrot disinformation and conspiracy stories makes it difficult to counter arguments that will be heard. And, Republicans are much better than Democrats at PR on focusing attention on issues that are not really as big a deal as portrayed. It is akin to creating an issue that can be carried around like a handbag and hit someone over the head with it.

People laugh when I say this, but in 2010-12 elections, the GOP candidates all spoke of the “failed stimulus” plan, with a mandate that both words be used together. Even Democrats believed it. The problem is the stimulus did not fail and was measured as accretive to GDP growth by six econometric firms. And, it should be noted both a Republican and Democrat president were involved in separate stimulus plans. Yet, the PR campaign was successful.

All I ask is to look at people’s stances on real issues, not contrived ones. What do you plan to do about climate change? What do you plan to do about gun governance? What do you plan to do about the growing white supremacy movement? What will you do to assure health care is available to people? What will you do to preserve the rights of women as the exist today? What do you plan to do about our US debt and deficit? What do you plan to do about inflation, other than just complain about it? And, so on.

Retiring Republican Congressman shares concerns

In an article in Politico by Nick Niedzwiadek called “Fred Upton: Slim House majority could spell trouble for post-midterms GOP,” the Congressman makes a few key points.

“Outgoing Rep. Fred Upton on Sunday said fellow Republicans may find it difficult to unite the various wings of the party if they prevail in taking back the House in the November midterms….

Upton said that if Republicans only obtain a slim majority, that would give additional leverage to firebrand members like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) who could complicate leadership’s ability to corral votes on key issues such as raising the debt ceiling.”

It should be noted that Upton is one of the more rational Republican legislators having called the former president and his sycophants on the carpet for their lies and misdeeds. I remember calling his office three or four times to compliment his political courage. In this respect it is sad to see him go.

Yet, as a former Republican and Democrat and now Independent voter, I must encourage voters who believe in addressing the real issues of the day, rather than the ones fabricated and created by the Republican party to garner votes, to not vote for any Republican. Per conservative pundit, Michael Gerson, the GOP is in “decay.” In my view, they are adrift untethered to the truth and lawfulness. The real RINOs are those beating on their chest in support of the deceitful, bullying and seditious acting former president. A party cannot denigrate its truth tellers, like Upton, and exalt its liars and those who won’t call out the liars.

Climate change is a huge issue that 70% of Americans believe must be addressed, which would be higher if not for the misinformation and disinformation pushed by the fossil fuel industry through their funded legislators. Better gun governance must be addressed. The attack on civil and voting rights must be addressed. The debt and deficit must be addressed. Health care access is critical to many. Democrats are far from perfect, but at least they are trying to address issues.

All I see from folks like the Texas and Florida governors and others is an invention of social issues that they contend are demonizing the country. Sadly, these fear tactics work. Rewriting history works, as well. The former president lost a fair election, but his ego is too fragile to be man enough to accept it. The former president inherited an economy that was the third longest growth period in our history at 91 consecutive months, with 2 million plus jobs for six straight years and a more than doubled stock market under his predecessor. He did not create that, nor does any president for that matter, but it did continue for thirty more months until the pandemic hit.

Please focus on the issues. There are good Republicans to consider, but they seem to be outgunned or are too silent. I disagree with Rep. Liz Cheney and Senator Mitt Romney on a number of issues, but they at least telling the truth about the decay of the party and the seditious actions of the former president.

I have shared with numerous Senators and Congressional representatives that we need a viable Republican party who can put forth conservative ideas. Right now, we don’t have one, as it has been pirated away by the likes of the former president, those two governors, and a host of strident demonizers, the real RINOs. Unfortunately, fear sells. The fact is too few consider the lack of veritas of the fear peddler. And, too many are willing to go along for the ride as it takes too much political courage not to.